Bovis ISSN 2398-2993

Evaluating dairy herd fertility by evaluating farm data

Contributor(s): Jonathan Statham , James Breen

Bishopton Veterinary Group logoRAFT logoUniversity of Nottingham logo

Introduction

  • As with all herd health management, the starting point with dairy herd fertility evaluation is to measure performance, before prioritisation of management change can take place, followed by ongoing monitoring.
  • Performance data may be considered in two distinct categories:
    • Data that may be collected and analysed before going onto the farm.
    • Observational data that usually require a farm visit because it is unavailable pre-visit or involves making clinical observations or taking invasive samples as an act of veterinary surgery.
  • Pre-visit data may include both health and reproductive records as well as production, nutrition and historic laboratory results.
  • Observational data may include that collected from regular veterinary fertility visits, such as ovarian and uterine ultrasound, presence of purulent vulval discharge, body condition scoring, metabolic blood sample results, building and feed assessments and artificial insemination equipment and technique review.
  • By combining data obtainable prior to the visit with observations, samples and measurements taken on a farm visit, a genuinely robust evidence-based assessment of reproduction may be made and compared with agreed performance targets.
  • The bespoke management plan constructed in this process has a far better chance of being implemented.
  • Reproductive visits should be a regular pre-planned event at intervals of between one to four weeks depending on herd size and individual herd management dynamics.
    • This will provide regular and early pregnancy diagnosis for monitoring purposes and support better submission rates through diagnosis and treatment of infertility problems.
    • It is also a good opportunity for the veterinary surgeon to have involvement in the setting and monitoring of fertility performance targets.
  • An action list summarizing cows that need attention at a regular fertility visit is advisable and a suggested list of cows to be included is given below:
    • Post natal checks (PNC): of preferably all cows at around 21 -28 days post-partum. If not all then  at least high risk animals should be examined ie twins, RFM, dystocia, milk fever etc.
    • Vulval discharge (VLD): any cows where abnormal vaginal discharge has been observed.
    • Estrus not observed (ONO, also known as ‘not seen bulling’, NSB): cows not observed in estrus by a specified stage of lactation. In herds recording reference heats (during the voluntary waiting period), it is useful to examine all cows which have not demonstrated an estrus during the voluntary waiting period. In herds which do not reliably record this information, cows reaching 24 days after the end of the voluntary waiting period without being served are often examined.
    • Pregnancy diagnosis (PD): from 28-35 days in gestation onwards dependent on use of ultrasound and experience of the practitioner.
    • Repeat breeder cows, served more than 5 times with regular service intervals.
    • Cows overdue to calve or with no recorded event in the last 250 days-to present for examination.

Which parameters can be measured pre-visit?

This article is available in full to registered subscribers

Sign up now to purchase a 30 day trial, or Login

Which observational parameters can be measured on farm?

This article is available in full to registered subscribers

Sign up now to purchase a 30 day trial, or Login

Summary of key performance indicators (KPIs)

This article is available in full to registered subscribers

Sign up now to purchase a 30 day trial, or Login

Conclusions

This article is available in full to registered subscribers

Sign up now to purchase a 30 day trial, or Login

Further Reading

Publications

Refereed Papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Remnant J G, Green M, Huxley J & Martin H D (2015) Variation in the interservice intervals of UK dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science 98 (2), 889-897 PubMed.
  • Kerby M (2013) Is the UK dairy herd's fertility still in decline? Evidence from the South-West of England. Cattle Practice 21, 46-49.
  • Statham J M E (2012) Fertility management of dairy cows. Cattle Pract 20, 48–56.
  • Hudson C D, Breen J E, Bradley A J & Green (2010) Fertility In UK Dairy 418 Herds: Preliminary Findings Of A Large-Scale Study. Cattle Pract 18, 89-94.
  • Kerby M (2009) The reproductive performance of 42 commercial dairy herds in the southwest of England in 2006/2007 - Observations, lessons learnt and thoughts for the future. Cattle Pract 17, 26–32.
  • Wapenaar W, Green M, Huxley J, Reader J, Biggs A, Burnell M, Breen J, Statham J, Thorne M, May B & Husband J (2008) Strengths and weaknesses of parameters currently used to measure reproductive performance in dairy cattle. Cattle Practice 16 (3), 200-208

Other sources of information

  • Webster J (2017) Sustainable Food Production. In: Dairy Herd Health Management: An Overview Chapter.


ADDED